Poor Dental Health Associated with Other Serious Health Risks
"When was the last time you saw the hygienist for cleaning?”
(Actually, I cannot even remember… year ago? Two?)
"Well, at least you brush your teeth twice a day, every day, without fail, right? And floss every day too"
(As a matter of fact, I do let it slide sometime and I could be a lot better at it. But it's not that big a deal, surely?)
If this sounds like a conversation that you've had with someone – or one that simply took place in your own head – this failure to act is not only damaging your teeth but possibly undermining your overall health as well. It's been established that poor dental hygiene has been linked to, or associated with, a range of health problems, some of them serious.
Our mouths are full of bacteria, and some of these adhere to the surface of the teeth. When you brush, and floss, and go to your hygienist for a cleaning, with the help of your saliva you are clearing these out. Dental experts say that over 500 bacterial species are present in plaque, found below the gum line. If they're not regularly cleaned out you may develop gum disease.
Some of these same bacteria can also enter the bloodstream and make its way to other body parts. When these bacteria reach the heat, they can attach themselves to any damaged area and cause inflammation. Endocarditis (infection of the inner lining of the heart) and other cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and stroke have all been linked to inflammation caused by oral bacteria.
Who Is at Risk?
Patients with chronic gum conditions such as gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease have the highest risk for heart disease caused by poor oral health, particularly if it remains undiagnosed and unmanaged.
Even if you don't have noticeable gum inflammation, however, inadequate oral hygiene and accumulated plaque puts you at risk for gum disease.
Both the AHA and ADA recognize that these health issues referenced above are associated with periodontal disease, and they're not exactly sure of the direct connection. Despite this, brushing one's teeth is a simple task that provides its own benefits, which include tooth decay prevention and better breath.
Good oral hygiene and regular dental examinations are the best way to protect yourself against the development of gum disease. We recommend brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush that fits your mouth comfortably, so it reaches every tooth surface adequately. Electric tooth brushes have beon shown to be more effective in cleaning the plaque. You should also floss daily and visit your hygienist for regular professional cleanings.
By being proactive about your oral health, you can protect yourself from developing a connection between oral health and heart disease, and keep your smile healthy, clean and beautiful throughout your life.